Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gandhi - The Good Boatman

I am SHE. When Manja offered to take my contributions - about 2 weeks back - I started thinking of a topic. (I haven't written anything for many years now.) Gandhi was the first thing that came to my mind because at that time, I was reading "The Good Boatman - A portrait of Gandhi". I hadn't given this away to Manja in any way. This also set me think why Manja hasn't written anything on Gandhi all these years? Was Gandhi a taboo to him? But on Dec 19th, Manja, for the first time, mentions Gandhi and makes his unique observation that Gandhi is an antithesis to Darwin's theory!

I am a domicile of North India for more than three years now. North India succumbed to the horrors of partition or 'batwara' more than 60 years ago (Note: Indians, known for their excesses, don't call it 'The Great Partition') Many people in North India hold Gandhi responsible for this event - not because he made it happen but because he couldn't stop it. So, here in the North, it is not uncommon to find someone criticize Gandhi. But surprisingly, I found that the very people who criticize Gandhi don't miss a chance to criticize (Sachin) Tendulkar!

I am proud at making this discovery as it at least clears why people hate Gandhi. Gandhi was no longer human and had risen to the status of God, and people wanted him to grant them all their wishes. So when Gandhi 'let down', it was unbearable. Just like, if Tendulkar 'threw away' a cricket match, it was unforgivable.

So, does one enter into a discussion with such people who ask too much from their Gods?

No. Just forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.

If Gandhi was born a thousand years back, there would certainly have been another relegion called Gandhism. Chances are less but you cannot completely rule out Tendulkarism too.

I want to end this entry with a paragraph found in the book mentioned earlier, that brought me close to tears. You may not like it as much as I did but I would still leave you with it -

In May 1944, a Gandhi thought to be dying was released by the Raj. He recovered and was joined by Rajagopalachi in the hill town of Pachgani. Following consultations between the two, a wire went from Rajgopalachari to Jinnah asking if the latter would object to his telling the Press that Jinnah had rejected his formula, which he intended to release. Jinnah wired back saying that it was wrong to say he had rejected the scheme. If Gandhi dealt with him direct, Jinnah would refer the formula to the League.

Gandhi now wrote to Jinnah, proposing a meeting. Jinnah agreed and said they could meet in his house in Bombay. Because of Jinnah's poor health the talks at 10 Mount Pleasant Road commenced only on 9 September 1944 and continued till 27 September. The two met fourteen times. Newspapers printed pictures of the two smiling. Many in India prayed. Wavell, the Viceroy, wrote in his diary that he was 'sure that the G-J meeting will result in a demand for the release of the [Congress] working committee' 'The talks were so pregnant with possibilities' observed Asoka Mehta and Kusum Nari, 'that every reporter waiting on Mr Jinnah's lawn began to feel himself a historical character.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Evolutionary Gandhian

Why is Gandhi a great leader? Because he went against the survival of the fittest. He proved the survival of the fittest is unnecessary. He showed the survival of the fittest can be overcome.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guest Blogger: SHE

I would like to welcome our new guest blogger, SHE. He doesn't need any introduction.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Absurdities of Caste Genetic Studies - Notes

If any Indian Caste Genetic study has M J Bamshad as one of its authors then absurdities to serve their intellectual dishonesty is but natural. I used to wonder why not Bamshad et al. study Punjabi and UP castes thoroughly then come to South India. I would be more convinced of their assumed limitation of those studies once we interpret those results. But after reading this study I'm not so sure of their competency.

Just a thought:
I suppose it's almost 13 years(Mountain et al. 1995?) since studies of Indian caste population started appearing. The complexity of Indian population structure probably has made it difficult for Geneticists to work on a comprehensive study of Indian castes. Barring few attmepts (Sengupta et al. 2005/6, Sahoo et al. 2006, Trivedi et al. 2007) none of the other studies really had all India scope. But in my opinion, these studies have severe shortcomings like small samples sizes, random caste assignments etc...

I would think considering the vastness of the field a co-ordinated effort is the need of the hour. There should be consensus on;
- Sample sizes
- Castes to be studies
- Position of castes
- Non ambiguous caste names
->Many caste names are titles could be found among many castes in a region. A better approach would be exact occupation and if exists old tribal names).
- Validity of assumption that East Asians and Europeans are standard populations.
-> There is a study(Zhao et al. 2008) that calls R2 European when in reality there is hardly any R2 in Europe and even the few observations can be perfectly explained from many angles.

About this study:
1. The present study throws many surprises that help their pre-held notions beautifully.
- J2a is higher in ex-Sudras and Dalits compared to Brahmins. J2b has made vanishing act or shows similar frequency across all castes. Both contrary to Sengupta et al.
- R2 frequency (which was higher than R1a1 among Telugu castes) has nosedived. Contrary to many previous studies(Kivisild, Sahoo etc...)

2. Some of the interpretations are beyond me.
- East Asian mtDNA M. But we don't have any East Asian Y-chromosomes! According to the study we have non-South Asian chromosomes and South Asian chromosomes. There is an East Eurasian Y-chromosome C (Mongolo-Oceanic) but its distribution in this study is rather counterintuitive for our understanding of mtDNA M. So, I would rather call mtDNA M as Mongolic. Oceanic has problems as their major lineages belong to mtDNA N.

3. Selective quoting of other studies
According to this study:
A recent analysis of caste and tribal populations from eastern India (Orissa) demonstrated Indo-European influences on paternal caste lineages [41]. Brahmins showed high Ychromosome affinity to eastern Europeans (M17, haplogroup R1a1).

I have quoted this study (Sahoo, Kashyap 2006) many a time in this blog. The really important point from the study was:
Analysis of Y-chromosomes revealed that the average genetic distance between Orissa Brahmins and Eastern Europeans (0.066) is relatively less than the distance between Eastern Europeans and the Karan (0.098), Khandayat (0.150), or Gope (0.067). Since both upper and lower caste populations, i.e., the Brahmins and Gope, were closer to Europeans and Central Asians, than were the middle caste populations, the Karan and Khandayat, this indicated that genetic distances have no correlation with their position in the caste hierarchy.

This kind of Ghetto study could have ignored quoting that study. It is perfectly alright to have exceptions. However, it is rather appalling that these people went ahead and selectively quoted it.

4. Some mathematics if it helps
Let's take Tamil caste population as 6 crores (60 million)
Brahmins form 3% => Brahmin R1a1 at 34.2% : ~0.32 million
Dalits form 20% => Dalit R1a1 at 20.6% : ~1.25 million
Ex-Sudras form 77% => Ex-Sudra R1a1 at 18.6% : ~4.5 million

Genetic variation in South Indian castes: evidence fr om Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal polymorphisms
Watkins et al. 2008
Via Razib's Gene Expression

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And my vote goes to...

Best Other View:
Paul Cornish's, The age of 'celebrity terrorism'
These individuals indulge in terrorism simply because they can, while their audience concocts a rationale on their behalf.

Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism.

The invitation to the world's D-list malcontents reads as follows: No matter how corrupt your moral sense, how contorted your view of the world, how vapid and inarticulate your ideas, how talentless you are and how exaggerated your grievance, an obsessive audience will watch your every move and turn you into what you most want to be, just before your death.


Best Ignorant View:
Aryn Baker, India's Muslims in Crisis

Best Frustrated View:
M J Akbar, Toothless leaders turn tough nation into soft state

Best Cynical View/Best Black Humour:
Vilasrao Deshmukh (Chief Minister of Maharashtra)

Best Hurt View:
V S Achuthanandan (Chief Minister of Kerala)
Link1, Link2, Link3

Best Obvious View:
Mark Tully, Will India heed the wake-up call?
But will India wake up? If the past is anything to go by the answer has to be "no".


Best Anglo-Saxon Literal View:
BBC reports, "There is no Kasab in Faridkot"
"Only shy boys study in Jamaat school"

Best Hate View:
Pat Boone, "Hate is hate, in India or America"
What troubles me so deeply, and should trouble all thinking Americans, is that there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists. Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts. And by its very nature, if it's not held in check, it will escalate into acts vile, violent and destructive.

Link (Via Pharyngula)
To be updated...

I don't have any opinions. I just want to support or oppose all those opinions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Freud was completely wrong...again

I think this new study complements the previous one. The previous study discussed positive effect of mothers on daugthers; this study examines the negative effect. In both the cases, sons are immune.

From the article:
Researchers found that girls whose mothers played mental games with them like making them feel guilty or withdrawing expressions of love reported much higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower levels of personal agency.

Psychological control did not affect the psychological well-being of boys.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Egyptian Introgression?

I came across this video at "Atheism in India" forum at Orkut. The priest centric Hinduism and the development of early Greek society(Y-Haplogroup J2a), both, the long time readers of this blog might be aware that I have attributed to West Asia. Traditional wisdom ascribe them to Indo-European nomads. My belief is that most likely IEs consulted their Wise Women and Medicinal Men like most of the Shaman societies in Steppe.

To further the previous argument, we know priests were a powerful community in both West Asia and Egyptian society. Even today their society is controlled by priests. However, in European lands priesthood never appeared until Christianity. Also, it was overthrown in many societies after few centuries.

There is a Malayalam story- I have mentioned that before- of a Brahmin husband and Paria(formerly untouchable) wife whose union produced 12 children. Well, that number again alludes to astrology. I suppose many anthropologists found that story as socially very revealing about the development of caste system in Kerala. I just wonder anything IE is left in Indian traditions. I hope there would be similar studies on Indian mythology/mythical heroes and astrology.

I think Manu recreating human race with the help of a fish is very revealing. That appears to be allusion to PISCES constellation.


In my excitement I failed to check the facts initially. Then looked up at Wikipedia.

It does appear to have generalized few things (eg. Krishna). However, the idea that astrological symbols have something to do with many myths, appeals me. In fact, Hindutvites typical attempt to find the exact dates of Mahabharata and Ramayana based on Astrology should be scrutinized from this background.

Regarding Krishna, I have argued about Visnu's(also known as Hari) growth from a minor solar deity to a main god shows influence of West Asia where the Sun god had become supreme over time.

At least, population genetics does appear to show the reason for West Asian/Egyptian deities/cultural aspects(purity-impurity) in Hinduism. When there are so many similarities then correlative thought( I don't know what it means just suppose another academic term for convergent evolution) can't be applied.

I of course just wonder whether it is believable that many scholars would sit together and create a great body of literature due to political backing. How about the Sangam literature? If it is the case then it is indeed an admirable feat. A greater hope for mankind than the true occurrences of these events.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The position of Tulu Language - IV

I'm not fluent in Tulu, the language of my native land. And still less in Malayalam, my hereditary language. By linguistics, I am actually a Kannadiga. But when I converse in Tulu , I tend to mix Malayalam verbs and cases sometimes. Never Kannada, except for nouns. However, I haven't observed that phenomenon vice-versa(no idea if I missed noticing it). I of course don't know if this signifies anything.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Tulu Tribes - V(a)

In my previous post on Pandyas, I had speculated about matriarchal Pandyas of Megasthenes. I tried to reason why Pandya(believing it to be derived from Pandava) was chosen as part of Hinduization. In my opinion, the Mahabharata story of Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, meeting a matriarchal kingdom probably was inspiration behind one of the matrilineal families of Tulu tribes to adopt it.

I find an amazing proof for this speculation in the kingdom that ruled Tulu region in the past, Alupas. Though Alupa or Aluva is a native Dravidian word (literally, ruler)* they claimed to belong to "Pandayvamsa"(Pandya Dynasty). And according to Wikipedia:
Their coins carried the dynastic title "Sri Pandya Dhananjaya" which means "Arjuna among the Pandyas".

It appears one branch of matrilineal dynasty of Alupas(The dynasty also ruled Kodava region too...and was speculated to be matrilineal there too...or Kodavas were also believed to be matrilineal initially, M N Srinivas) became patrilineal Pandyas in Tamil region.

In my opinion, by 350-300BCE, based on Megasthenes description, a matrilineal dynasty of Tulu women was created in Tulu region.

*Plausibly wrong. It is pronounced as alUpa and not ALupa, where "ALu" means 'rule' in Tulu/Kannada. No idea about etymolgoy of "alUpa".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to fry without oil?.2

Now the stereotyper-in-chief BBC says fried and salty food are "Western Diet". And I used to think bland food and salad were their staple diet. Of course, that was my impression about China too but I have come across various types cooking that use copious amount of oil and salt. A Taiwanese even apologetically told me their diet wasn't healthy.

However, fried items may be a recent development in South India. Again Telugus maybe the exception here as they appear to fry every eatable vegetable. But I may be wrong about traditional Telugu food. But when it comes to salt and chilly Telugus are a cut above others.

Traditionally, people fried only fish. I haven't come across any other fried meat items. Then few snack food were fried. But snacks are staple diet only in IT industry.

Of course, neither oil nor salt came to India thro' these "Westerners". We have traditional endogamous castes of oil presser (Kan: gANiga) and salt maker (Kan: uppaliga).

We also have a type of Salad called pacaDi in Kannada or caLLi in Malayalam. It's just that we don't have lettuce leaves. I don't think those terms are derived from any IE languages.

But I wonder about this "West" when it comes to diet. Otherwise West encompasses Mediterranean regions like Greece. Then why healthy Mediterranean diet isn't part of Western diet. This in a way isn't all that wrong. I am thinking of genetic input that shaped cultural outlook of Greece and that is clearly West Asian.

In conclusion, BBC could have reported everything without 'Western Diet', 'Oriental Diet' nonsense.

PS: So we have to consume salad instead of salty food. It appears salad itself is derived from Latin Salata meaning 'salty'. Irony...Irony.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Approach to Comparative Anthropology - II

5. Neither language nor culture are neutral attributes.
6. Archaeology has limitations due to;
6.1 Scarcity of data due geographical constraints
6.2 Inability to detect assimilations
7. Founder effect
8. Statistical age calculation methods that aren't real
9. Creation of nodes based on;
9.1 Observation of consistency of haplogroup distribution across isolated tribes
9.2 Observation of haplogroup distribution in surrounding non-tribal population
10. Fitting comparative philology and archaeology data to the distribution of male and female neutral markers.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Tulu Tribes - V

Pandyas revisited:
Apart from Tulu and Malayalam regions, none of the other Dravidian regions had matrilineal traditions. This is indeed an intriguing situation and needs an explanation.

Sexual Divison of Labour:
There are studies that question the sexual division of labour in hunter-gatherer societies. Instead they opine that it's a phenomenon of sedentary societies. Considering that civilization first took roots in sedentary societies, we can be sure that it would have had patriarchal authority.

But civilization also rose in other hunter-gatherer societies because of contact with sedentary societies. I think the interplay between sedentary community and HG bands determined whether the resulting society became patrilineal or matrilineal.

Since there is no strict division of labour in hunter-gatherer bands, I would consider the family structure was matrilineal and there was no definite community structure or no authority.

Now the present day Dravidian tribes are also not matrilineal. To account for that, I propose that when the concept of marriage entered into these tribes, even though they remained as tribals, matriliny made way to patriliny. Patriliny is a conscious structure and identity whereas matriliny is a natural development which is a non-conscious identity.

But the question is whether it is possible for any matrilineal community to become a matriarchal society. I am going to rely upon Rhoda Halperin's view that food scarcity drives HG bands to adopt exclusive male hunters society. However, abundance would have both sexes in equal responsibility. Here I propose, only HG bands in food abundance regions have any chance of turning into matrilineal and matriarchal(or equal rights as there is no sexual division of labour) non-tribal society. However, we have to introduce one more variable into this. And that is the class of sedentary society that comes into contact with this HG band.

Matriliny and Traders:
I propose if priests and rulers meet the tribal society first then the HG band may turn into patriarchal one. However, if traders meet them first then there could be chances that HG band in food abundance region could turn into matriarchal or equal rights society.

In my opinion, the traders from eastern India moved to south-west coastal India in probably 4th or 5th century BCE. From there they sold black pepper to Arab and Greek regions and imported black-eyed peas. South India around that time was inhabited by numerous Dravidian tribes. And most likely Tulu-Malayalam region was a food abundance region and therefore without much sexual division of labour.

Be it patriarchal or matriarchal(equal rights), if the transition from tribal to non-tribal society is influenced by another sedentary society then it tries to build upon the structure of the sedentary society or legitimizes itself from the parent society. Here I try to explain the earliest known record of matriarchal kingdom of Pandyas. According to Megasthenes Pandyas were ruled by a queen who was the daughter of Hercules.

Here we can see two legends of north being adopted by matriarch ruling class to legitimize itself. The first one is the name Pandya. There are many speculations that Pandya could have been derived from Pandava. But why Pandava? It's mainly because there is a legend in Mahabharata that would legitimize female rule.

Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, goes to a kingdom ruled by women when the horse of Ashvamedha enters that territory. To cut the story short, the queen Pramila becomes Arjuna's consort or Arjuna becomes her consort. This story along with another Mahabharata hero Krishna (whom the Greeks identified with Hercules) was adopted by one of the matrilineal households after they took these traders as their consorts.

I would think this is how a strong matrilineal tradition was cemented in Tulu and Malayalam region. Maybe even Sri Lanka too was initially matrilineal/matiarchal. I suppose according to legends before King Vijaya, it was ruled by a queen called Kuveni.

Though these initial contacts with traders made the matrilineal tradition mainstream, as I argued before, the inherent weaknesses, which I would identify as non-conscious matrilineal identity, rendered it non-conscious slave of male overlordship. It is highly possible that one of the male heirs of Pandya line turned it into patrilineal structure and expanded into Tamil region*. Since inherently matriarchy is equal rights rulers need not be only females.

This could be seen in Malayala region where even matrilineal families were headed by only male members. However, the situation was bit different in Tulu region where I suppose the eldest female member of the family had the same rights as the male member.

*Here it should be noted that patrilineal Tamil Pandyas called their capital as Madurai after Krishna's birth place Mathura. We have already noticed that Megasthenes' matriarchal Pandyas also considered themselves Krishna's descendants.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Agriculture in South India -notes

Black-eyed pea beans:
Black-eyed pea beans* were introduced into the South India from the Greek city of Alexandria (Egypt).

The Pali name of Alexandria is 'Alasanda'.

The SD languages have a similar word for 'Black-eyed pea beans'. May be it's a borrow from Indic languages or direct adoption since Greeks traded with South Indian ports. I think it's the latter case. Malayalam name alasAnDram sounds very close to Alexandria.

*The nomenclature I follow:
pea - seed
bean - pod

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Caste and Class

I used to get rather irritated by some of the Europeans' (okay, only one) annoying habit of conflating the caste with the class. Of course, none of the attributes of the elite class and the working class could be applied to the caste system in the past. There were levels of shame and pride associated with the caste system in such a way that people of equal economic standings were still divided by the caste rules.

I was going through Louis Dumont's 'Homo Hierarchicus'. Though I don't agree with him completely, as I have more data in the form of genetics compared to him, some of his observations are sublime.

He discusses about European view of the caste system under the section, "Caste as the limiting case of known institutions", whether it's a religious or simply 'social' phenomenon in the eye of Europeans(stereotypical Westerners). His one observation around 40 years ago still finds echo in at least one European's naive view of the caste system that I have come across.

"...nowadays Hindus often assert to Westerners that caste is a social and not a religious matter. It is clear that the motivation here is quite different: it is mainly a question of finding some justification for the institutions from a Western point of view, the point of view usually accepted by the educated Hindu."[Emphasis mine]

Of course, the European that I know has made up his mind based on some Hindus' explanation on this phenomenon.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - iia

In my previous post I mentioned about Yadava-Ideya connection based on Ravi Mundkur's post on their etymology. I think that is a mistake.

I was reading "Caste, Society And Politics In India From The Eighteenth
Century To The Modern Age" by Susan Bayly. According to her, Yadava identity of cowherds in north/east India is a recent phenomenon. During 19th century many castes tried to have a dignified identity for themselves in colonial India. Before nineteenth century cowherds were called Goala(Govala...literally cowherd) in those areas. In caste India, the name of the occupation also carries shame and can be used as an abusive word. Whatever the reasons the name Yadava is a new identity and can't be equated with Ideyar of South India.

However, this will change nothing in my arguments on the formation of Dravidian society. South Indian herders were also known as Golla traditionally (now many of them are taking up Yadava caste name). So that still shows continuity of Golla identity from north to south just like their R1a1.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Freud was completely wrong...

Mothers' pride 'aids daughters'

Ambitious mothers produce super-confident daughters, a University of London study has suggested.

A study of more than 3,000 children born in 1970 found girls whose mothers had high hopes for their future felt more in control of their lives at 30.
Girls whose mothers predicted at age 10 that they would go on to further education had greater self-esteem as adults - there was no link for boys.

Kairen Cullen, spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society and an educational psychologist said other studies had shown that children relate strongly to the same gender parent.

I like that part. My philosophy expects son carrying father's identity and daughter mother's. In other words daughter is part of mother's family(mtDNA line) and son is father's family (Y-chromosome line). In my opinion, daughter should take up mother's family name and son father's. Wife should never take up her husband's family name or daughter her father's name/family name and vice versa in a matrilineal community. At least, it is not as dumb as having hyphenated surnames.

Anyway, I detect a sour note in the article.

But she added: "It would be fascinating to see what effect fathers' expectations have on daughters - I have a sense that fathers' expectations could have an effect on both genders."

Moral of the story, no expectation; no self-esteem. Always push and force your children to be something. Liberal parents are the worst enemies that the children can get.

Origins of Indians: Version 4.1

Munda Invasion Theory(MIT):
To go along with my Semitic Introgression Theory(SIT), I am proposing one more theory to account for spread of Austro-Asiatic languages.

The popular theory of Aryan Invasion Theory proposed by the anthropologists with parsimonious data envisages male mediated invasions of IE speakers to the subcontinent massacring/enslaving local men and taking up the local women. However, north Indian population do show non-Indian specific mtDNA lineages.

I have already proposed that IE speakers(R1a1 people) migrating to the subcontinent probably thousands of years before the putative Aryan invasion.

But male mediated invasion fits well with Mundas of India. Though their Y-Haplogroup Chromosome O2a is generally observed in South China and SE Asia, all their mtDNA lineages are native Indian or they don't have any East Asian lineages. So it appears Mundas invaded eastern India and took up native Dravidian women.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words -iiib

Couple of examples on r->zh formation in the region of Tamil Nadu.

An Orissan inscription uses the term Tramira. In Tamil speech it has become 'Tamizh'.

Inscriptional evidences point out that Chola was derived from Chora. Tamil's have turned it into 'Chozha'.

In both cases, we can see r->zh sound changes in historical times.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - iv

Present day Dravidian languages mostly use Sanskrit or Prakrit words for 'love' and derived words*. Of course, here by 'love' I mean attraction between man and woman. I was checking for native terms at Starling database.

The striking feature of all those terms is that they are observed mostly in South Dravidian literate branches.

Because of fixed mentality on part of many Dravidian linguists a single term 'ar' meaning love or desire has found three entries in dictionary, viz., DED 0281, 0301, 0381. I think Kota 'ayl' meaning twin does not belong there. Anyway, in my opinion r, L, zh are all sound changes of alveolar approximant r.

Then there are couple of entries that look intriguing.
1. Kadala(DED 1445): This is supposedly observed in SD languages. At present only Tamil uses it heavily in movies. I was reading an old Kannada work "Vaddaradhane". There I came across its usage in a sentence "paradana kAdalise paDuva magaM"(= son loved by the merchant). According to editor's note, Kadala is derived either from Sanskirt kAtara or Prakrit kAyara meaning lover, lovable or affectionate.

Vaddaradhane is a Jain work supposedly written by Shivakotyacharya. It is an Old Kannada work dated around 950CE. Jains heavily used Jain Prakrit (Magadhi Prakrit) terms in their works. As such Kannada works do show heavy influence in the literature. Though very few of them have become part of native parlance. And Kadala isn't part of spoken Kannada vocabulary.

Was Jain influence in native life (and not only in literature) stronger in Tamil region? Or a big chunk of Magadhi Prakrit speakers became part of Tamil speakers in the past? Anyway, I need more examples and probably native terms in Magadhi Prakrit regions of East India.

2. *par (DED 3964): I think the Telugu term 'perima' is too close to Sanskrit 'prema'. Either Telugu is a wrong addition to that list or again we have to check whether it's an adstrate effect because of assimilated Magadhi Prakrit speakers. Only tribal languages part of literate SD languages show these terms.

*Okay, now it's almost always the English word.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Origins of Indians : Version 3.2

The Phallic Worship:
In one of my previous posts, I had argued that phallic worship could have been originated from Sino-Tibetan/Austro-Asiatic people present in India's north-east and east. My argument stems from the fact that neither Dravidian tribes nor IE tribes practice phallic worship and it's observed among Sino-Tibetan people of Nepal and north-east India. Now I suppose its presence among Austro-Asiatics could be because of contact with Sino-Tibetans.

However, genetic studies hardly show the presence of Sino-Tibetan marker O3a5 among Indians.

I was trying to find the etymology of liGga (phallus). I found many of the Sino-Tibetan languages have the term for penis starting with 'li' or 'le'. I thought that is close enough if we consider the phallic worship is borrowed from Sino-Tibetans.

When I was going thro' some of the branches, 'Kiranti', covering the people of Nepal, caught my eye. I suppose Kirantis are identified with non-Vedic tribes called Kiratas. What surprised me is the branches named 'Tulung, 'Kaling' under Kiranti. Who are these people? That Tulung is close to 'Telang' and 'Tulu' Dravidian groups of South India. Kaling is close to Kalinga (Orissans) of east India.

I tried to recollect Kannada terms for penis. tuNNe, kuNNe, cummi, bulli are the ones I know of. Off these cummi, I suppose, means genital. But I guess bulli is a borrow from Telugu. As the online dictionary shows 'bulla' is observed only among Telugus. Interestingly, Tulung term for penis is 'ble'. Now, how close it is to Telang 'bulli'? We have to remember again, core Dravidian words in Telugu would always show initial 'v' sound and not 'b' sound. I have already argued that any discrepancy for this rule must be viewed from foreign origin angle.

Probably, I need to change Austro-Asiatic over lordship of Dravidian tribes with Sino-Tibetan ones.

But how did these Sino-Tibetans become so successful in spreading their phallic worship to Hinduism? Of course, success in religious sphere need not necessarily mean success in spreading their genepool. However, what was the strong feature that is responsible for this phenomenon?

Request to readers
: If you know anything about Tulung and Kaling tribes of Kirantis then please drop few words.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - iiia

I have to make a major correction in the sound changes that I discussed in my last post.

Coastal Dravidian route:(Tulu->Malayalam->north-western Tamil Nadu)
alveolar approximant r -> alveolar trill/tap r (Tulu)
alveolar approximant r/alveolar trill/tap r -> retroflex approximant r/retroflex palatal approximant r -> palatal approximant y (Malayalam,Tamil, few other SD-I tribal languages)

Correction to the following:
During SD-I and SD-II split, alveolar approximant r, might have given rise to an allophone alveolar plosive d. Which became retroflex plosive in SD-II languages. But I think this should have happened with a big chunk of SD-I speakers too.

alveolar approximant r -> alveolar plosive d -> retroflex plosive D

I think it should be;
alveolar approximant r->retroflex flap r->retroflex plosive (another group of allophones)

On a side note, this is what I found about Burrow, Emeneau and Krishnamurti's Dravidian etymology Dictionary.

Our understanding of Dravidian is strongly related to the Dravidian etymological dictionary of Burrow and Emeneau (1984 and online). However, this is very Tamil-centric and the literature constantly confuses its head entries with proto-Dravidian (e.g. Krishnamurti 2003).
-Roger Blench

My understanding is that Tamil literature might have preserved the words that would have lost in other languages. Also, it might have preserved the cases and other grammatical structures that are no longer used. However, when it comes to consonant sound changes(vowel sound changes aren't all that important), the old Tamil literature cannot be referred as the sounds are native to a geographical region.

Commenter Varttik (who doesn't agree with this anyway).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Usefulness of Genetic Horoscope - i

One reason the tests have proved controversial is that they can measure only the genes that studies have linked to certain conditions - not the many that have yet to be discovered.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Terror Risk in India - Update

From Rediff news,(Ashamed to quote from a vulgar mainstream site...but I can't help it)

"We have a principle which supports a consistent process of having a pre-tour inspection and assessment before every tour," Young was quoted as saying by The Australian newspaper.

The newspaper further adds that there have been suggestions from the subcontinent that some cricketers who are now refusing to tour Pakistan stayed in India playing in the Indian Premier League despite the serial blasts in Jaipur.

However, Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) said it is unfair to compare the Jaipur bombing to the situation in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has had 66 suicide bombings within its country over the past 12 months with over 3000 people killed and 17 of those attacks have been in the venues of the Champions Trophy," May said.

"There was no security assessment that there is the likelihood of any further bombs going off in Jaipur."

Australians are indeed very calculative people.

My previous entry.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - iii

Retroflex Approximant zh:
The retroflex approximant zha is as of now still pronounced by majority of Malayalis and few Tamils (Bhadriraju Krishnamurti)*. It is a rather intriguing sound found in old literature of SD languages. Some of my observations.

1. Present day written and spoken Telugu employs retroflex Da, Kannada employs retroflex La and Tulu employs alveolar(trill or tap ... no idea) ra

2. But many Nilgiri dialects and Malayalam spoken in Kasaragod and many Tamils employ palatal ya.

3. Generally, Telugus use Da, where you find SD-I speakers use La or Ra.
kOLi(Ka)kOri(Tulu)kODi(Te)kOyi (Kasaragod Malayalam)kOzhi(Standard Malayalam) (=chicken)

4. Present day Malayalis turn 'r' sound in foreign words into 'zh' sound.
eg. 1. Parsee is written/pronounced as Pazhsee.
2. University is written as Univezhsity.

Then what could have been the original sound? I used to think, because of my Kannada background, that is basically an exotic La because 'La' is used in Kannada where Tamil/Malayalam use 'zha'. However, I was told by a linguist that *zh sound must be constructed in SD/PD as a rhotic. Of course, this was before I carefully listened to Malayali pronunciation of 'zha'. Malayali pronunciation is exotic 'r'. And according to Wikipedia this is equivalent to present American English retroflex approximant 'r'(in some places). But in my opinion, Malayali pronunciation is retroflex palatal approximant(or exotic 'rya').

It appears AE retroflex r is an allophone of alveolar approximant r (Scottish English). Last night I was listening to this "500 miles" song(which kindled this entry). I thought "Lord" was pronounced like "Loyd" with palatal approximant y.
Listen to Petey, Paul and Mayi singing with the palatal approximant.

My construction of PD sound:
The original PD sound could have been alveolar approximant r. This we can observe in Tulu where alveolar trill or tap r is used. This alveolar approximant r gave rise to retroflex approximant r(zh) (in my opinion, retroflex palatal approximant r) which in turn gave rise to palatal approximant y. Therefore, all three are allophones.

alveolar approximant r -> alveolar trill/tap r (Tulu)
alveolar approximant r/alveolar trill/tap r -> retroflex approximant r/retroflex palatal approximant r -> palatal approximant y (Malayalam,Tamil, few other SD-I tribal languages)

During SD-I and SD-II split, alveolar approximant r, might have given rise to an allophone alveolar plosive d. Which became retroflex plosive in SD-II languages. But I think this should have happened with a big chunk of SD-I speakers too.

alveolar approximant r -> alveolar plosive d -> retroflex plosive D

The influence of geography changed retroflex plosive D into retroflex plosive L in Proto-Kannada.
retroflex plosive D -> retroflex lateral L

Migration to Tamil region:
Based on the above arguments, I would say the youngest Dravidian region, Tamil Nadu, had two defining migration patterns. The Proto-Tamils were mix of Proto-Malayalis (retained in allophones zh, y) and Proto-Kannadigas (retained in L). Standardization of written script probably happened in a region where Proto-Malayali migration was dominant. This script was probably became model for Proto-Kannada script too.

* There is a hilarious story about Malayali zh and Tamil zh. A southern Malayali chieftain was troubled by an unending Tamil migration to his region. He was scared that Malayalis would become minorities in that land. However, it was tough to block the migration as there was a lot of to-and-fro movements from Malayalis too. At the entry point of Tamil/Malayalam regions he created posts and put a 'chicken' test to incoming people. Every person who wants to enter Malayalam region had to pronounce kOzhi. According to the story, Tamils would pronounce it as kOLi (like Kannadigas) and would be turned back.

My wife(the zha Malayali) who doesn't think 'lord' is 'loyd' in that song.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Origins of Malayalis - ?.2.0

Nambudiri Brahmins, popularly credited to have turned Tamil into Malayalam by adding Sanskrit words to it, were originally Tamils, according to this new paper. (Via Indo-Eurasian_Research Yahoo Group).

That makes sense to me if I agree with that Tulu Brahmin who claimed they were originally Malayalis who came along with Sankara. That also tells us that Malayalam didn't adopt Tulu Grantha script at a later time. It was already there in Malayalam region before its appearance in Tulu region.

update(22-Jul):If I think about it, I suppose this also accounts for Na, La, in Brahmin dialect of Tulu. Non-brahmin dialect of Tulu lacks these retroflexes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Human Genetics and Racial Categories

A new article "The ethics of characterizing difference: guiding principles on using racial categories in human genetics" caught my eye (Via Dienekes').

The scope of the paper as described in the abstract:
We are a multidisciplinary group of Stanford faculty who propose ten principles to guide the use of racial and ethnic categories when characterizing group differences in research into human genetic variation.

And the ten guidelines are:
Statement 1: We believe that there is no scientific basis for any claim that the pattern of human genetic variation supports hierarchically organized categories of race and ethnicity

Statement 2: We recognize that individuals of two different geographically defined human populations are more likely to differ at any given site in the genome than are two individuals of the same geographically defined population

Statement 3: We urge those who use genetic information to reconstruct an individual's geographic ancestry to present results within the broader context of an individual's overall ancestry

Statement 4: We recognize that racial and ethnic categories are created and maintained within sociopolitical contexts and have shifted in meaning over time

Statement 5: We caution against making the naive leap to a genetic explanation for group differences in complex traits, especially for human behavioral traits such as IQ scores, tendency towards violence, and degree of athleticism

Statement 6: We encourage all researchers who use racial or ethnic categories to describe how individual samples are assigned category labels, to explain why samples with such labels were included in the study, and to state whether the racial or ethnic categories are research variables

Statement 7: We discourage the use of race as a proxy for biological similarity and support efforts to minimize the use of the categories of race and ethnicity in clinical medicine, maintaining focus on the individual rather than the group

Statement 8: We encourage the funding of interdisciplinary study of human genetic variation that includes a broad range of experts in the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences

Statement 9: We urge researchers, those working in media, and others engaged in the translation of research results to collaborate on efforts to avoid overstatement of the contribution of genetic variation to phenotypic variation

Statement 10: We recommend that the teaching of genetics include historical and social scientific information on past uses of science to promote racism as well as the potential impact of future policies; we encourage increased funding for the development of such teaching materials and programs for secondary and undergraduate education

In my opinion, except statement 7, rest are not really important. Recently there was a study on "Indian population groups" and genetic link to diseases. I expressed similar feelings to one of the geneticists involved in the project. I feel a lot of effort (I guess that project took years to complete but wasn't accepted by major science journals) and money is being wasted on a field which may not have much relevance.

Though I am all for individual genetic horoscope, I must admit I don't have much idea about its usefulness.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

IVC Spoke Caucasian - revisited

Maju reminded me about the language of IVC people by commenting on one of my previous posts on the same topic. Last time I wrote IVC spoke an extinct Caucasian language. The Caucasian language family is now mostly restricted to Caucasus mountains.

Before E3b clan from Africa, R1a1 clan from Central Asia, spread Afro-Asiatic and IE languages respectively to West Asia, most of the West Asia and Caucasus mountains were inhabited by Caucasian language speaking J1 hunter gatherer tribes. Please check Y-Haplogroup-J1 distribution among isolated endogamous communties that speak Caucasian languages in the region of Caucasus at Quetzalcoatl Anthropology forum.

It is possible that IVC might have spoken a language belonging to the same family. I suppose I claimed that based on the distribution of Ilishu-esque names via Google search. Iu Ilizhu was a translator from Meluhha recorded in Sumerian documents.

According to Maju, ili, iri etc.. are ancient West Asian terms of town or city. I suppose Dravidian Ur is very close. Incidentally, there are many place names in my region ending in "-ila" whose meaning is unclear at present.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Origins of Indians: Version - 9.2.1

Ravi Mundkur discusses about some of the totems among Tuluvas. He derives the name of the caste of fishermen, Mogera, from a totemic object, rabit. I would like to present another angle to the name.

I have discussed about the entry of sea fishermen to South India. I wasn't able to place them to any linguistic group clearly. But it appears a section of them could have had IE linguistic origins from north-western India(or Pakistan).

The Old Sindhi word for fisherman was 'mahavar'. If you observe, few Tamils still make h->g sound changes (mahEza becomes magEza); It is possible that in remote past old Tuluvas might have made the similar sound changes.

Hence, the initial change is mahavar->magavar.

Another vowel replacement common to Tulu/Malayalam is 'av' to a long vowel. eg. avan->On(=he) in Kasaragod Malayalam. aval->Al(=she) in Tulu.

Now, the second change magavar -> magAr

Even today, there is a fishermen community called Mohanna residing in Sindh. Recently, genetic studies have been conducted on them. I don't have access to the article. But I found the study at an Egyptian forum.

From the study:
The Mohanna have been included in such a
study for the very first time. This ethnic group resides in the
Sindh province, and their livelihood is fishing; in fact, the word
Mohanna in Sindhi means fishermen. Not much is known
about this population, but it is believed that the Mohanna were
the original inhabitants of the subcontinent, who were then
replaced by the Aryans when they invaded this area. However,
little pockets of this ethnic group were left over after the
Aryan invasion. In Pakistan this pocket exists in the south
around the river Indus, where the Mohanna presently reside.

I don't give much importance to autosomal analysis. I believe only neutral haplogroup markers have any legitamacy in migration history.

Anyway, one thing we can observe here that Old Sindhi maha* has turned into moha* in present day Sindhi. Therefore, it is possible that mahavar might have arrived as mohavar to Tulu region.

Hence, m(a/o)havar ->mogavar->mogAr ->mogEr

It is possible that Mohanna might have had pre-IE origins. However, as their name suggests a section of them migrated after IE-isation of their community.

It would be interesting to see if present day Mogera-s of Tulu regions have any Y-Haplogroups that matches to Mohanna of Pakistan.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - ii

In the last post we have seen anomalies to Dravidian b-v isogloss due to Magadhi Prakrit adstratum. I believe these words entered between 500BCE-0, or the fifth phase where guilds entered from the eastern regions[1]. But there could be IE borrows into Dravidian languages that show typical sound changes comparable to to core Dravidian vocabulary. And these IE migrations could be part of Dravidian expansion in South India from Central or West India.

One of the earliest IE migrations to South India was that of herders. Known in north India as Yadava; their old identity in South was Ideya(Yes, herders in South India have appreciable frequency of Y-Haplogroup R1a1). Ravi Mundkur has clearly shown that Ideya is in fact derived from Yadava[2]. I have already mentioned that herders might have migrated south around 1000BCE[1]. Perhaps Dravidian expansion to south started between 1500BCE-1000BCE. Let's examine a word related to herding.

The term for cattle (pazu in Sanskrit) has entered Dravidian languages. In Kannada, cow is called hasu.(Please note there is also a Dravidian word hasu(Le) in Kannada which means child. Similar words for child, boy, calf ..payal, pay, peyy etc... is found in other Dravidian languages but different from present word which is borrow from IA languages). In Kasaragod variant of Malayalam it is called pay. The s->y change between Kannada and Malayalam can be observed here. Incidentally, standard dialect of Malayalam employs the Sanskrit word.

1. Origins of Indians version-9.2
2. Iddya to Yedapadavu

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - i

bAgu is a common Telugu word meaning 'good', 'well being' etc... I didn't find the cognates in SD-I languages. Dravidian Etymology Dictionary(DED) mentions Tamil word vAkku meaning perfection is a cognate. This must be an exception where a Telugu word has 'ba' instead of 'va' while Tamil shows 'va'. Generally, Tamil and Telugu have 'va' sound where Kannada/Tulu have 'ba'. Unfortunately, equivalent Kannada and Tulu words are not available. So is the case with Malayalam, according to DED.

But today I was reminded of a word in my variant of Malayalam. Though standard dialect of Malayalam uses nallad for good; we say pAG. eg. ad pAGilla; nI maTTed nOkkiko(That is not good; you check the other one). However, we use pAG mostly with non-human objects and nalled with humans.

Update: Commenter Mallinath has come up with few more exceptions to 'ba', 'va' rule. But of the three words he mentioned two appeared to be Indo-Aryan import to Dravidian languages, baNDi, baNDa and the remaining one, bratuku, appears to be a borrow into Telugu from Kannada(I assume because the same noun form is said to be a borrow into Tamil from Kannada, according to DED*).

While ruling out all these exceptions, I became suspicious of the word bAgu. Then suddenly I remembered a stupid dialogue from a horrible Hindi movie. "mErE man ko bhAyA; mE kutta kAT ke khAyA" (My mind felt good; I cut a dog and ate). Indeed, Telugu bAgu and Malayalam pAG are borrows from IA languages. I have already mentioned that a big chunk of IE speakers assimilated with Dravidians. I consider the language of these people was Magadhi Prakrit. Therefore, any exceptions to 'va', 'ba' rule (which I firmly believe is geographical for Dravidians) must be checked from Magadhi Prakrit angle.

* Please find the links to Dravidian dictionaries at the sidebar(Starling and Digital Dictionaries of Asia).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Kannada form of 'Chennai'

Once Dravidians became stagnant in present day regions the new words coined by one of them have entered as foreign words into other Dravidian languages. They no longer associate with the sound changes of their common vocabulary. Good thing is that we can still deduce native forms of other Dravidian language words.

Today, I would like to discuss about Kannada form of the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.

Kannada words with initial ki start with ce in Tamil.
eg. kivi(Kannada) -> cevi(Tamil) (=ear)

Kannada words that end with e end with ai in Tamil.
eg. kOTe(Kannada) -> kOTTai(Tamil) (=fort)

Hence, the Kannada form of cennai is kinne.

Similarly, Tulu form -> kenne
Malayalam form -> cenna

Friday, July 04, 2008

Praying Scientists of India

‘Scientists must not pray in labs’
TIMES NEWS NETWORK (July 3rd, p. 5)

Hyderabad: The Centre for Inquiry on Wednesday urged scientists not to conduct religious ceremonies in scientific laboratories. A recent survey by the Centre of Inquiry in association with a few other bodies discovered that a majority of the country’s scientists were “religious and even superstitious”.
The survey report was based on inputs from institutes all over the country, including Acharya Nagarjuna University, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Centre for DNA and Finger Printing and Diagnostics, Deccan College of Engineering and Technology, Kakatiya University, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology and SV University from the state.
The survey said 44% of scientists believe in astrology while 41% believe in conducting ‘pujas’ before starting any major scientific activity. According to the members, scientists are setting a bad example to the rest of the country by believing in superstitions including vedic astrology. “There are many cases where scientists do pujas in their labs. This should not be permitted as there should be no observation of religious rites in any of the government institutions,” former CCMB director P M Bhargava said.
“A majority of the scientists said they believe in some super non-human power which protects all,” social activist Chandana Chakraborthy said. According to the founder member of the organisation, N Innaiah, many scientists believe in godmen too. Since the survey deals with scientists who come from different elite institutes in the country it is alarming to see these many people believing in superstitions.

Couldn't make out what percentage of Indian scientists are atheists. Is it 51%? Are all the believers of Astrology(44%), a subset of believers of prayer(49%)? Or are there atheists among believers in Astrology? But if one believes in Astrology, is s/he an atheist by the definition of it?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Origins of Malayalis-?.1.2

Okay, I lost my directions completely in my previous post. Tamils and Malayalis sharing east/west in fact do not contradict Caldwell's words. I should be careful not into fall in the trap set by imaginative people.

Anyway, I would consider it as Tamil superstrate influence on Malayalam. The Malayalam common word for the west is paDiJAyir (that is a cognate with other SD languages like Kannada/Tulu/Tamil and Telugu). I would rather think Malayalis would have kept kizhakku/melku pair in common usage had they been the people who coined them. But what has happened to the word denoting the east that would have made a pair with the west? Curiously, Kannada/Tulu, Telugu and Tamil don't have a cognate for the term east. May be the word was highly variable and probably had multiple terms based on the sun.

It appears Kodava and Kota words for the east is 'ki', same as Tamil/Malayalam. Both tribes are traditionally highland,western ghat, people for whom eastern region (Tamil) is beneath. That may show Proto-Tamils' migration route to present day Tamil region from present day coastal Karnataka region.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Origins of Malayalis-?.1.1

In my previous post I had mentioned Caldwell and Logan's arguments for Malayali words for east and west. While Caldwell derives it from Proto-Tamils' movement from east to west; whereas Logan derives it from sun's movement.

I'll again quote Caldwell's words here.

The Malayalam word for east, kizhakku, means beneath, and because melku (west) means above, Dr. Caldwell argues that the Malayalis must have come from the Tamil country east of the ghats, since there they had the low level of the ocean on the east and the high level of the ghat mountains on the west.

Other day, I was checking Tamil words for east and west. To my utter surprise Tamils also have the same words, kizh and mekku, for east and west.

Now, if Proto-Tamils became Malayalis then Tamils above ghats shouldn't have the same words. That in my opinion shows it's Proto-Malayalis who became Tamils(at least a section of them). This of course goes well with my old theory that Mangalore is the urheimat of SD-I speakers. The diversity of SD-I languages along Mangalore-Nilgiri belt in fact shows SD-I speakers first moved along coastal Karnataka region then migrated inwards.

Directions in Dravidian languages:
In my opinion, the directions in Dravidian languages need to be studied properly. Only in SD-I there are independent words for north and south common to most of the languages in the branch. For east and west all the words appear to be local innovations after languages became independent. However, it is clear that none of these were part of Proto-Dravidian or Proto-Dravidians were directionless people.

The words for north and south, baDagu and teGku, are common to Kannada, Tamil, Tulu and Malayalam. The words for east and west are mUDu and paDu respectively in Kannada(Tulu). However, Malayalam word for east is 'kilakku' and west is, though Caldwell/Logan call it 'melku', at present 'padinjayir' which cognates with Kannada 'padu' is in the common usage.

Kannada east and west are directly connected to sun's movement where 'mudu' means 'form' or 'rise' and 'padu' means 'fall', 'die' or 'set'. In fact, Malayalam west 'padinjayir' means 'setting sun'(padu + njayir (sun, nesara in Kannada)).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Origins of Indians: Version 7.1

Formation of North Indian and South Indian male population(Hierarchical model).

Note: Moving Austro-Asiatics so high in the hierarchy may seem bit odd. But I have my reasons for that. It is true that Austro-Asiatics may appear at low frequencies (<1%) among many castes and as such do not show any particular distribution. However, their influential presence is among Brahmins in South India. The defining South Indian kingdoms like Satavahana (IE), Kadamba(IE, Dravidian), Chera(Dravidian) and Kalabhra(I don't know)show very strong Austro-Asiatic cultural motifs.

It appears Buddhist-Brahmin kingdom of Satavahana gave rise to Jain-Brahmin kingdoms of Kadamba in Karnataka and Chera in Kerala. Whereas Kadamba gave rise to Kalabhra in Tamil Nadu (kaDaMbaru -> kaLaMbar -> kaLabra?).

The study, "Genetic affinities among the lower castes and tribal groups of India: Inference from Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA", Thanseem et al. (2006) found O2a-3/86 in a combined pool of Kannada and Telugu Brahmins. I feel that explains mixed Munda and Vedic/Jain/Buddhist identities of these kingdoms.

Tribes forming a their own kingdoms is not unheard of in Central India. In the last millennium a Dravidian tribe, Koitor(Gonds), also carved out a reasonable big but short-lived kingdom in that region. Probably, technological/cultural gulf between Koitor at one end and Mughals/Marathas(their destroyers) at other end might have been too high, whereas, that of Mundas and others 2000 years back might not be so.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Payyannur Pattu -1

It takes ten minutes for me to read a single line of a Malayalam text and another ten minutes to decipher it. As of now, I have read two lines of payyannUr pATTu. But I am happy that I have come across 'ba' instead of 'va' in the first line itself. According to the editor notes, 'va' and 'ba' interchange freely in the poem.

Incidentally, oldest extant Malayalam works (vaDakkan pATTugaL) come from north Malabar (Kolathunadu or present day Kasaragod and Kannur districts) region or particularly from Kannur region. They are dated from 13th century to 16th century. These folk songs or so-called ballads are about personalities from merchant, cultivator and toddy tapper communities. However, the bards who created them need not be from the same communities. Payyannur Pattu, a story involving a merchant woman, was developed, performed and preserved by washermen[1].

In my previous post, I quoted that Vadakkan Pattugal do not show any Sanskrit or Tamil influence. However, I am not sure about Payyannur Pattu(part of Vadakkan Pattugal or northern ballads). I suppose it shows Sanskrit or Prakrit(that reached the region of Kerala) influence.

1. Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia By Sheldon I. Pollock (Google Books, limited preview)

Update: I made a mistake (that I have deleted). I thought Payyannur is in Kasaragod district but it turns out that it's in Kannur district. I visited Payyannur during my primary school days to attend a wedding. At that time all the distance I travelled within Kerala was Kasaragod. Or so I thought. So I had this notion that Payyannur was in Kasaragod.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Origins of Malayalees-?.2

Another proof that spoken form at least in Malabar (north Kerala) wasn't influenced by Tamil.

Vaddakkan Pattu: Collection of ballads of medieval origin. These present the saga of heroes like Aromal Chevakar, Tacholi Otenan, Tachola Chandu, Palattu Koman and heroins like Unniarcha, Mattu, etc. The oldest compositions do not date earlier than 16th but their idiom and vocabulary seem older. The Malayalam used is devoid of Tamil or Sanskrit, thus is probably close to the spoken idiom.

In my opinion, Proto-Kannada that reached the region of Kerala and Tamil Nadu branched into Proto-Malayalam and Proto-Tamil(need not be Proto-Tamil-Malayalam). However, Tamil and Sanskrit exerted superstrate influence on Malayalam because of Tamil political rule and religion respectively.

*Copied from:
A Dictionary of Indian Literature By Sujit Mukherjee (Google Books, limited preview).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tapasam and Payyannur Pattu

I was searching for supposedly the earliest extant Malayalam work 'Payyannur Pattu'. I found editor Dr. Scaria Zacharia's email address on web and mailed him. He is part of an organization called "Tapasam". Dr. Zacharia has been very helpful in sending the books.

About Tapasam(from their site);

The Association for Comparative Studies (ACS) is an academic forum, meant to promote culture and knowledge. In Kerala the Association is popularly known as TAPASAM.

It is a society registered (Reg. No.K.472/95) under the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Regn. Act XII of 1955. The ACS seeks to promote excellence in the academic life in Kerala, especially among post-graduate students, research scholars and teachers by encouraging comparative and interdisciplinary studies in different fields and by facilitating effective communication among scholars of different disciplines. It seeks to emphasize and promote Kerala studies. The Association intends to provide facilities for research work; encourage research publication; and organize seminars, lectures and orientation courses. The annual conference of the Association gives an opportunity for young scholars to present papers on different themes and interact with senior experts.

We are interested in collaborating with similar academic organisations. We are already working in academic collaboration with Hermann-Gundert-Gesselschaft, Germany.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Antidote to Pakistan's ills

I think Pakistan should change its name to Meluhha. Probably, people east of Indus calling it "Melusha" and west of Indus "Meluhha". By population genetics the biggest block of Pakistani population is native South Asian. According to my loose calculations, around 35% of Pakistanis have native South Asian lineages( the lineages that do not have any identity outside South Asia). The rest 65% must be divided between West Asia, Central Asia, Europe and East Asia and I don't think any of them match up South Asian numbers on their own.

I hope this name change would trigger an entire new outlook about their identity. This new realization may liberate them from their present identity.

But the greatest change I would expect among irrationally irritating Homo Heidelbergensis from Lemuria.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Buddhism and Untouchability

Generally, Buddhism has been viewed favourably by erstwhile untouchable groups in India. I have argued that in India Buddhism was never an exclusive identity. Hence it is tough to identify its true nature. The castes that followed Buddhism generally took their purity-pollution concepts to this religion too. My previous post illustrates that phenomenon. My opinion is that there were no true Buddhists(as a religious identity) but for few Buddhist monks. Few families might have followed Buddhist way of life but were known by their caste identity.

In addition to that there were incidences of untouchability in Nepal and Japan that appear to have a common factor in Buddhism.

But I have come across many studies that point out that many professions were considered low and hence the people in many societies. In other societies it was just a social phenomenon but in India it was religiously sanctioned feature.

With this background, I feel, there exists ambiguity about Buddhist attitude towards untouchability. The problem is compounded as the development of Untouchability that included slave farmers may be post Buddha. When it comes to untouchables who were slave farmers*, I think that it has something to do with Vaisyas(free common men like farmers, herders, smiths) becoming Sudras thus further pushing Sudras(slaves/serfs) into Asprishyas(who probably during Vedic period included undertakers, forest tribes etc... only).

Recently I came across this message at Indo-Eurasian_research Yahoo group. It's about Untouchability in historical China.

"Untouchables" long existed in China in the form of various groups of jianmin
"lowly people". They were clearly separated from regular, "good households"
(liangmin) in official population registers. Their exact components varied from
place to place. But most were in such universal "untouchable" professions as
entertainers, undertakers, prostitutes, professional beggars, garbage
collectors, etc. Some groups had fancy stories about their origin not unlike
that of Roma people/Gypsies (re. the nails to be used to crucify Jesus). Those
lowly people were forbidden to marry with "good households". Nor were they
allowed to go to school and to participate in civil service examinations.

From 1723 on, Emperor Yongzheng (reign 1723-1734) issued repeated edicts
abolishing such "lowly households" in government population registers. Two
particular remarks can be made here:

1. It took a "Barbarian" Manchu emperor to legally abolish "untouchability" that
had existed in China for centuries.

2. Emperor Yongzheng's decision was inspired by the Buddhist maxim that "all
lives were created equal," a notion that came from the Indian subcontinent among
all places.

Naturally, Qing legal actions could not eliminate many or perhaps most of those
"lowly people" who continued to engage in their traditional professions. For
instance, in Shaoxing (Zhejiang province), even on the eve of the Cultural
Revolution, many undertakers still came from traditional "duomin" families.

A somewhat meek point is that, because China's "lowly people" almost never
engaged in farming (which in Confucian ideology was the second most respectful
profession), untouchability in premodern China represented a very small and
mostly urban social component.

(Emphasis mine)

Buddhism in the hands of nomadic people (who didn't show much interest in purity-pollution) probably showed its true face at least in one aspect.

Note: Farming might have been noble profession in China but not so according to purity rules of Hinduism. Though it wasn't as low as the so-called low professions like scavenging, leather works etc... it wasn't an exulted profession. However, it was never deemed too low as almost all sections of the castes engaged in it.

Buddha's parents

Sage Publications allows free download until 31st May. There is a wealth of information on Indian social/cultural aspects. I have been busy downloading and hopefully I'll read them all. Now to the main topic.

I was reading "The Goddess Pattini and the Lord Buddha: Notes on the Myth of the Birth of the Deity" by Gananath Obeyesekere. This paragraph caught my eye and I thought of posting it.

Scholars have reconstructed the historical Buddha on the basis of the myths recounted in the Pali Canon. There is not the slightest doubt about the historicity of the Buddha and some of the suttas do indeed give us useful historical and sociological information of the society and the period in which he lived. But there are real dangers in extrapolating or rationalizing history from myth, which as we have shown, provide symbolic solutions to problems of a very different order. Practically every historian of Buddhism has rationalized the myth of the death of Buddha’s mother seven days after his birth to mean that the Buddha’s mother died seven days after his birth and he was brouqht up by Maha Prajapati Gotami, the Buddha’s mother’s sister and co-wife of his father.We have shown that the necessity for eliminating the mother springs from a different set of motives. It is conceivable that the myth is a symbolic elaboration of a real event, but there is no independent evidence to justify this. Furthermore,take the names of the Buddha’s father and mother, Suddhodana and Maya, which practically all scholars believe were the real names of his parents. From the point of view adopted in this paper this is highly unlikely, and these names have to be viewed in relation to the mythmaking process. Maya means "illusion";, and in the Upanishadic view current in the time of the Buddha, the whole phenomenal world was an illusory manifestation of a true underlying reality or essence. Thus it is highly appropriate that she whose body bears the Buddha, a spiritual being, should be viewed as; "illusion";. Her husband’s name, Suddhodhana, means "pure-rice". But rice is also seed and symbolically means "semen". In many Indian languages the word for "seed" can also denote "rice", "egg"; or semen. It is likely that the attempt here is once again to maintain the purity of the Buddha’s mother, i.e., how could someone who bore a "Peerless One" like the Buddha ever have been polluted with sexual intercourse ? The solution is to deny that his sperm was of the normal kind "pure rice ( seed )". The name Suddhodhana is an attempt to bring a historical personage into the mythic scheme of events centering on the Buddha. Maya, however, consistently maintains a mythic nature in the texts, for the Mahapadana Sutta of the Digha Nik√§ya says that the Buddha was visible in the womb of his mother "as a thread through a precious stone."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Terror Risk in India

I think terror risk in India is plainly exaggerated. I have arrived at this conclusion after observing cricketers from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand who are currently playing in IPL T20 tournament.

Compare the terror risk in Pakistan and in India. A popular view is that terrorists in Pakistan are controlled by the powers in that country. Coincidentally, terrorists in India are also controlled by the same people. This is a view probably shared by all countries except Pakistan. Fittingly, every now and then terrorists and government call a truce in that country that probably goes well with the popular belief.

However, if there is any terror strike in Pakistan those cricketers either won't tour or will pack their bags and go back home. Mind you this is in a country that controls its terror and probably may not like to embarrass itself.

Let us see India's case. Most of the times India does not have much clue about the terror attacks. Its record in solving the past terror cases is even worse and whatever it has done is very superficial. Unlike Pakistan it can't even call a truce with the terrorists.

For me, under these circumstances it is safer to tour Pakistan than to India. However, cricketers from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have more faith in India than Pakistan.

This contradiction drives me to think that majority view need not be the right view. Probably India controls the terrorists than the other way round. Though terrorists may think India is their play ground unbeknown to them they are mere pawns of the powers in India.

Approach to Comparative Anthropology - I

This blog's approach to comparative anthropology takes the following steps.


1. Distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups and mtDNA haplogroups in diverse groups
2. The isolation of these groups in the historical past
3. The common cultural motifs among these diverse groups
4. Application of "convergent evolution" or "common beginning" on (3) based on (1)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Maternal Ancestry of Malayalis - II

I have discussed about some of the maternal lineages of Malayalis before. At that time I didn't have any idea about my subclade. Recently, I came across a Jewish matrilineage data from yet to be published Doron M Behar's new study. I found my near match in one of the samples. That probably is a Malayali Jew lineage.

I have tested for HVRI and HVRII sequences and I have exact match in the following sequence.

EF556193 Haplogroup M
A73G T152C A263G 309.1C 315.1C G316A T489C A750G A1438G A4769G
T5201C C7028T A8701G T8843C A8860G A9180G T9540C G9947A A10398G C10400T
G10685A T10873C G11719A G12007A C12705T A13105G C14766T T14783C G15043A A15196G G15301A A15326G G15355A T15862C T15968C C16223T T16263C T16519C C16527T

My HVR sequence:

HVR1 : 16223T,16263C,16519C,16527T
HVR2 : 73G,152C,263G,309.1C,315.1C,316A,489C

I most likely belong to mtDNA haplogroup M4* as the complete sequence has mutation at location 12007.

M Derived: (HVR1 sequence)
M50* : 223, 263, 519 (*)

*Update 1-may-2008:
Behar et al. paper is out. I belong to mtDNA M50* subclade of macro haplogroup M4'30.

Update 10-May-2008:
Ibra has pointed out that the designation M50 has already been used in the study "Austro-Asiatic Tribes of Northeast India Provide Hitherto Missing Genetic Link between South and Southeast Asia", by Reddy et al. (2007). I appears Behar et al. are oblivious of this paper as they declare the designation is a new one. We can expect M50 getting a new name.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Origins of Indians: Version 8.1

Coastal Migration Theory and I:
As I have mentioned before I am skeptical about Coastal Migration Theory. This theory proposes a set of Homo Sapiens after leaving Africa rapidly colonized South Asia, SE Asia and Australia moving rapidly along the coastal regions. Y-Haplogroup C is generally considered as the marker of that coastal migration.

One of the C's in India belong to subclade C5 is distributed across India. However, there are C* in South India that might be the legacy of coastal migration. I compared the tribes and castes that carry this lineage and I observed a strange pattern in its association with other haplogroups.

I make the following assumption before coming to my conclusions.

If a haplogroup is observed in more than one endogamous tribe/caste then its uncharacteristic presence in any group cannot be explained with genetic drift or bottleneck or founder effect.

That haplogroup in the below table is R1a1. As far as I can see C* is observed in conjunction with R1a1.

Tribe/Caste: Observed Haplogroups - Region
Koya Dora/Konda Reddy - F, H, O2a - South - East
Kurumba - F, H, R2, L1 - South - West
Kamar - F, H, L1, O2a - South - East
Yerava - F, H, C*, R1a1 - South - West
Koraga - H, R2, YAP - South - West
Toda - L1, J2a, R1a1, C* - South - West
Pallar - F, H, R1a1, C*, J2b- South - West
L1, R2

Based on the above data I propose the following pre-neolithic migrations.
1. Africa-Middle East-South Asia : F, H
2. ? -> East India : O2a
3. Central Asia - south west coastal India : R1a1, C* (one of the first migrations of R1a1)
4. ? -> south-west India: L1
5. ? -> south-west India: R2

I don't see the possibility of coastal migration with this scenario.

1. Cordaux et al. 2004
2. Sengupta et al. 2006

Correlation between major Indian Y-chromosome markers

Using 31 different population clusters from the Indian subcontinent I wanted to see if there are significant correlations (positive or negative) between the frequencies of any two haplogroups. Two positively correlated haplogroups may indicate a shared history and expansion, whereas a negative correlation may indicate opposite histories of those haplogroups. I considered the 5 major Indian haplogroups for the analysis, which are, R1A1, H, R2, J2 and L.


Dravidian castes:

  • -R1A1 increases then L increases

  • -R2 increases then H decreases

  • -R2 increase then L decreases

Indo-European castes (IE):

  • -R2 increases then R1A1 decreases

Dravidian + IE castes

  • R1A1 increases then H decreases
  • R2 increases then R1A1 decreases


Some members of H were replaced by a Holocene population consisting of R1A1 and L. Some time later (possibility during the Neolithic), members for R2 expanded over an R1A1/L/H background population.

The full analysis can be downloaded here:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Guest Blogger: Ibra

I would like to welcome Ibra as a guest blogger. His core field is mathematics but has a varied interest in Anthropology and Linguistics. He is a Canadian of Caribbean Indian ancestry. He belongs to Y-Haplogroup R1a1 clan.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Origins of Indians: Version 9.2

Formation of Dravidian Society:

The castes in the erstwhile South Indian society might not have indulged in an exclusive occupation. However, I would consider the dominant stereotypical view of their occupation as the defining identifiers of their group. The discussion is completely restricted to caste and tribal population for obvious reasons.

The biggest groups in Dravidian societies are cultivators. They are either numerically the biggest or the second biggest in all the states. They may form monolithic group as in Karnataka and Kerala or diverse groups as in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Generally, chieftains came from this groups. They may form 15-30% of total population in any state.

Toddy tappers:
In Malayalam and Tulu region they are the biggest group. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh they make up sizable part of the population. I believe in Kannada region their proportion in the population is not significant compared to other Dravidian regions(I may be wrong). Though originally made up of diverse groups now overall a monolithic group.

I don't think in any of the states they make up even 10% of total population. Mostly, a single caste but there are exceptions, I suppose.

I am restricting to only sea fishermen. May not form more than 10% in any state population. May or may not be single caste depending upon the region.

Except weavers numerically insignificant. Even weavers' distribution is uneven across the states and in no state form 10% of the population. Weavers are diverse groups but other artisans are generally a single caste group. Though it could be argued that all these smiths(goldsmith, blacksmith, carpenter etc...) were originally a single endogamous unit that turned into multiple castes in the course of time. Tanners are relatively big in Andhra region I suppose. However, in other regions their numbers are insignificant.

Agricultural Labourers:
Agricultural labourers may form 10-15% of the population.

Other Occupational Groups:
Among hundreds of other numerically insignificant occupational groups priests may form the biggest group at around 3-4% of population followed by merchants.

Tribes may form 3-4% the South Indian population. They are unevenly distributed with the highest concentration in Andhra Pradesh(6%) and the lowest in Kerala/Tamilnadu (1%).

Phase 1: Sea fishermen
In the first phase few people moved away from tribal life and became fishermen. It is possible that tribes and sea fishermen might have come to South India independently. The land fishermen were part of tribes. At the end of first phase we have;
1. nomadic land tribes 2. sea fishermen

Phase 2: Broken tribals Around : 3500 BCE -3000 BCE
This is sedentary civilizational phase for a section of population. A section of population took up farming. These are independent farmers cultivating small strip of land. A section within this took up toddy tapping because of unique South Indian geogrpahy. These are interdependent groups but cut off from organized tribal society. The civilized society of sedentary life did not form fully due to uncertainty of their occupations because of unique South Indian conditions. These are broken tribals without any organization. At the end of second phase we have;
1. nomadic land tribes 2. fishermen 3. farmers 4. toddy tappers

Phase 3: Feudal farmers Around : 2000 BCE- 1500 BCE
In this phase farmers from IVC started moving to South India. These highly organized advanced farmers found easy serfs in unorganized independent farmers. For protection these feudal farmers employed the service of nomadic but tightly knit land tribes. This phase also saw sedentary life of many land tribes. The contact with IVC farmers allowed them to appreciate the sedentary life of farming. This phase saw development of village organization with tribal chiefs as the heads.

This is a significant phase in South Indian society as the society experienced master-slave divisions. The serfs were mainly from independent farmers and to a lesser extent from toddy tappers.

I have discussed about the origin of the name Holeya previously. I need to make certain corrections here. In an earlier post I had predicted that erstwhile bonded labourers in Andhra region, Mala, might have got their name because of purity-pollution concepts. My argument was that if Holeya is from a Dravidian root meaning impure then 'Mala' may also follow the same logic. Then I found Stephen Fuchs' "At the bottom of Indian society" deriving the name in the same fashion.

But I could feel my logic for these groups might have worked in other way round too. I have noticed that only Brahmins in Kannada region derive the name from the root 'impure'. All other people derive it from the root 'field'(the one who works in a field). Again, Mala may have other roots. In Karnataka it is considered as a name of a tribe. Also, Tamil equivalent Pallar were supposedly called 'Mallar' (few centuries ago) showing their affinity with Mala in Andhra region. The place where 'Mala' meaning impure is attested is an old Telugu dictionary. That probably means identification of these two names with 'impure' was the handiwork of brahmins. Since other communities associate Holeya to field (hola in Kannada) I believe they were the earliest broken tribes who ventured into sedentary farming.

At the end of phase 3 we have;
1. feudal farmers from IVC and from land tribes(chiefs) 2. tribal soldiers 3. slave farmers 4. fishermen 5. toddy tappers 6. land tribes

Phase 4:
Entry of IE herders Around: 1000 BCE
This period saw IE herders moving to South India. These herders assimilated many local tribes. However, many local tribes independently took up herding.
At the end of this phase we have;
1. feudal farmers 2. tribal soldiers 3. slave farmers 4. fishermen 5. toddy tappers 6. herders 7. land tribes

Phase 5: Entry IE guilds Around: 500 BCE - 0
By this time rudimentary civilization was taking shape in South India. This allowed entry of craftsmen and merchants to this region. Many tribals joined them or started their own guilds. The society until now only class based added one more divisive philosophy, the caste system, to it.

End of this period also saw entry of priests from eastern regions.
At the end of this phase we have;
1. feudal farmers 2. tribal soldiers 3. slave farmers 4. fishermen 5. toddy tappers 6. herders 7. craftsmen 8. priests 9. merchants 10. other occupational groups

Phase 6: 0 - 1900 CE
This period saw reorganizations of various groups according to caste rules. The tribal soldiers became part of various groups. The ruling classes saw north-Indian and non-Indian additions to their ranks.

At the end of this phase we have;
1. feudal farmers 2. independent farmers 2. slave farmers 3. fishermen 4. toddy tappers 5. herders 6. craftsmen 7. priests 8. merchants 9. other occupational castes